Director: Sun Zhou (2003)
Gong Li says she wants to step out from director Zhang Yimou's shadow. If that is indeed the case, she makes a good start in Sun Zhou's new offering Zhou Yu's Train.
Young porcelain painter Zhou Yu (Gong Li) finds herself living a double life, as she embarks on love affairs with two men. Her central life, lived with a young poet (played by Tony Leung) who she visits twice a week by train (hence the title), is stable and unchanging. Then, one day, she meets a vet (Sun Honglei) who also boards her train and wishes to buy a hand painted vase that she is carrying.
Zhou's poet lover is reluctant to give up his poetry to live with her, and the vet seizes an opportunity to pursue the young woman. Gradually, he begins to fill the void in Zhou's life, and she begins to make space for him in her heart.
Juggling the two men in her life, Zhou leaves her vet on the train before meeting her poet, who remains unaware of her ongoing entanglement. Finally, the pair meets after Zhou's sudden death in a traffic accident.
The characters of the two lovers are polar opposites, with the mercurial poet offset by the fast-living vet, endorsing the old saying that girls all love bad boys.
Before Zhou Yu's Train was released, rumors circulated about angry scenes when the pair of cuckolds finally meets. The flames of rumor were further fanned with the delayed release of the movie, and many believe that hot scenes were cut at the last minute by the film censorship board, although movie distributors will not comment.
This could be part of the reason that the plot is slightly patchy in parts. The movie deliberately focuses on the figurative language of the characters rather than their social backgrounds, and putting clothing fashions aside, there is a timeless sense to the movie and its accompanying soundtrack.
Possibly the best thing about the movie is its title - the name Zhou Yu is strong, genderless, and likely to leave audiences guessing before they have even watched the movie.
(cityweekend.com.cn February 12, 2004)